Sunday, October 30, 2011

Ya'll remember the feature I did with Pink Pearls? Well I couldn't help but to notice that pretty much her entire regimen consisted of Kerastase products. After posting the feature, my curiosity got the best of me and I immediately went on the hunt for at least one product from the Kerastase line just to see what all the commotion is about.

I visited a local high-end salon and asked the stylist to help me identify which product would best work for me. She recommended products from the relax line but I insisted that I wanted an intense moisturizing conditioner over anything else. In the end, I left the salon with this:

The Nutrithermique is an ultra-moisturizing, heat activated, deep conditioner. At only 6.8 fl oz, I didn't get much product for the $40.00 I invested. This was especially concerning for me because I'm quite possibly the most heavy handed person I know. Especially when it comes to deep conditioner. I've been known to use an entire bottle of cheapie conditioner in one pre-poo session.

Now that I've had three opportunities to use this product, I must say that this is THEE most moisturizing deep conditioner I own. It's even more powerful than my Aveda Dry Remedy line which fell way below my expectations. The Nutri-Thermique has become an instant staple for me. The product itself is thick like any self-respecting deep conditioner but what makes it special is how it instantly transforms to a watery-moisturizer the moment it touches the strand. My hair feels damp with just a tiny amount. Because it's so powerful, I actually use much less product than expected. I apply small amounts of it to individual sections then overlap it with one of my other "moisturizing" conditioners.

Because my experience was so great, I decided to go back for more by experimenting with other Kerastase products. So far, I've picked up the Voile Nuit, a night time treatment that I absolutely adore! It's a restoring water-based moisturizer spray containing natural oils and ceramides. I'm in love with how fine the mist is. Even when I run out of this product, I'll use the bottle to house my Biolage Leave in tonic. Or maybe even my ACV/H2O blend..... Oh, and did I mention how much I love the Viole Nuit?

I also swooped up the Nutritive Sublimateur Jour as a daily leave in moisturizer and the Ciment Thermique which is a heat activated reconstructor (also contains ceramides). I apply the Ciment to my hair during the rollerset since it's heat activated and sitting under the hair dryer is the only time I really use any heat. Most recently, I purchased Aqua-Oleum vials. I dunno but something about a hair product in vials makes it irresistible to me. The reviews on this product were highly positive so I figured I would give it a go! The sales rep at the Beauty Store where I purchased the Aqua-Oleum also gave me a nifty sprayer attachment that fits perfectly on the vial. This sprayer is worth its weight in gold 'cause I can also use it to top my Biolage Cera Repair Pro vials. Once again, the sprayer gives this ultra-fine mist that I really appreciate. Although I've amassed quite a stash of Kerastase products, I'm still on the hunt for one more item, the Oleo-Fusion. Once I get my hands on it, I will slow down I promise (two fingers crossed behind my back).

When I started writing this post, I was in the beginning of my weekly wash process. Now I've finally completed the roller set take down and I am memorized by my hair. My last relaxer was in August and usually, by this time, my hair would be fighting me every day. Right now you wouldn't believe how soft it feels and how healthy my hair looks. Even hubby came in and said "nice hair" before walking out of the room. If I got his seal of approval, I know something magical had to happen. Yeah for Kerastase!

In these pics,I did a pre-shampoo deep condition with Nutri-Thermique using heat, then washed with WEN. I used the Ciment prior to roller setting then misted individual damp sections with the Aqua-Oleum. Once dry, I rubbed a little Sublimatuer leave-in and Gleau Nourishing Argan oil blend for extra shine and softness.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

This post is a little off topic but I want to share something with you. Several weeks ago when these images of Melyssa Ford surfaced on the net, my reaction was no different than anyone else's. Her body is spectacular. That goes without saying. Even when I clicked out of the web page displaying those pics, several thoughts continued to run through my mind.

My thoughts went beyond just what has happening in those pictures at that moment. I pondered on how amazing Melyssa felt about herself because of her level of fitness and the body that was a result of it. Think about it, every time she puts on clothes, or takes them off, she's probably holding a positive internal conversation with herself. How do I know? Simply because all of us are constantly holding internal conversations whereby we make comments, good or bad, about what we are experiencing at the moment or what we experienced in the past or what we think we might experience in the future. I reckon, that her internal talk about her body is empowering. And by creating those empowering conversations, she produces positive emotions, which, in turn, help her take inspiring actions.

Then I got to thinking about myself and my lady gut. I flashed back to how I felt the other night when my husband started rubbing it in his sleep as if he were rubbing a lucky buddha. Memories of back in the day, when he used to give me props for my abs flooded my mind. That's when I decided at that my belly has to go. No more excuses. Next came the million dollar question. How?

I've decided to make a game of it. Remember as children when we would craft games out of thin air and our vast imaginations? Games relieved us of boredom and brought excitement to our day. Games made our lives fun. Let me tell you more about this new game I created.

The object of the game: To create a flat stomach, toned legs, thighs and arms.
My winning strategy: Engage in physical activity daily, adjust eating habits, improve digestion.

The Rules:
No less than 15 minutes of daily exercise in the morning. Otherwise, no shower.
An apple a day. 1.5 liters of H20 daily.
Transverse abdominal exercises.

My membership to 24 Hour Fitness.
There's a large park near my neighborhood.
Access to hotel gyms while traveling.

My travel schedule which makes difficult to plan meals, exercise regularly and promotes unhealthy eating.
Work related dinners with co-workers occurring after a long day's work.

On the weekend of December 3rd, 2011. My husband and I are planning to head down to Miami for a mini-vacay. I have every intention of having won the game by then. The last thing I want to do is walk around South Beach feeling down about myself. Not when I have a choice. And I do have a choice.
I can already see it now. The warm, low humidity air feeling divine on my skin as I stand in the Miami sun. For the first time in months, I feel spectacular. Maybe my body doesn't look exactly like Melyssa's but I feel as good a she did when on that faithful day when the above pictures were taken. By making a game out of it, I essentially change my outlook on creating my new body. In the past, I viewed making these changes as something difficult and unpleasant. Now that it's a game. I plan to have fun and I plan to win.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Who's ready for another giveaway?! I know I am. I've somehow amassed a small arsenal of products from my own giveaway winnings, companies sending me products as gifts, etc. I figured that instead of being a hair product glutton, I would share generously of my bounty. This round I'm featuring a moisturizing leave-in detangler from Mizani's professional line.

Although I haven't yet tried this product, I picked it as a giveaway item because I remember how disgustingly painful it can be to have to deal with stubborn tangles. So let's cover the rules of the give away shall we?

  • Follow the blog!
  • Send an email to [email protected] titled "Detangle Giveaway"
  • Say a silent prayer for me that I will reach my hair length goals.
  • Rub the belly of your puppy three times counter-clockwise while saying "detangle, detangle, detangle!"
  • Ok, you don't have to do the last two but make sure to follow and send your email to enter!
p.s. This giveaway open to U.S. residents.

Winner will be announced via email on November 6, 2011. Good luck everyone!

Congrats to Tiffany, the randomly selected winner of the Giveaway!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

I received a very interesting email the other day from a reader who was seeking help regarding her predicament. She recently cut her hair back from mid-back to neck length due to breakage (for the second time). The writer also mentioned that she deep conditioned regularly, doesn't use too much heat and stretches up to 16 weeks. Sounds like she's doing everything right, so what could be contributing to her breakage?

She and I are still in communication so I don't have all the information needed to help her figure out a root cause yet but her email really made me think. I too have dealt with major set backs that required mini chops. On several occasions I found myself with large sections of hair suffering greatly after reaching decent lengths. How could this happen?

Looking back, I've come to find out that most of it was my fault. In my case, it was my behaviors that lead to the loss of my progress. This revelation was one that didn't come easily. I had to really step back and analyze each and every action (and inaction) related to my hair in order to understand what was happening. My setbacks had nothing to do with the products I used (or needed).

I'll stop sounding all theoretical now and give you some real examples of what I'm actually talking about from my own experience.

Scenario 1:
"One side healthy, the other side damaged"
I was roller setting as usual admiring how thick and even each section of hair I parted. Even as I ran the small toothed comb down the lengths, there was no sign of breakage. I was in heaven. That is until I completed the right side of my hair and moved to the left. All of the sudden, I was dealing with weak, uneven hair so fragile that broken strands appeared with even the slightest touch. "What the?!".... "How did I create such damage to one side of my hair?"

That's when I sat back and silently replayed all my actions over until I could find a cause. Turns out that I my own routine created this. I'm left handed so I naturally feel comfortable using my left hand to take care of the right side of my hair. The right side received all of the care when I applied conditioner and the right side was the first side I set with rollers. By the time I got to the left side of my hair, the right hand was in charge and my patience had run out. With one side of my hair, I was thorough, meticulous and effective. The other side, I was negligent.

Scenerio 2
"What's going on back there?"
Another struggle that I've had to deal with was regarding the back of my hair. After applying consistent focus to bringing health back to the damaged section, I began to see tremendous progress to my left side. Soon, that part of my hair was no longer an issue for me. That's when I noticed the back section of my hair. Turns out that I was neglecting that area of my hair. Why? Because I am one those people that tends to wear her hair over her shoulders. The hair I see when I look in the mirror receives all of my attention. Over time, the back of my hair didn't get as much love as the rest of my strands and so of course eventually, damage began to appear.

I can also share scenarios for thinning hair, breaking ends, and so forth. What's important to focus on is the how we address the issue. It's important that we remain committed to identifying the root cause, and not simply search out products as a cure-all. Sure I could have shelled out money and got more products, but if my behaviors remained the same, progress wouldn't have been made.

The key to effectively overcoming setbacks (especially those ones that show up out of no where) is to analyze our actions. Really take a look at yourself and what you do with regards to your hair. I believe that every action produces a result. Some of those results are immediate, some long-term. Breakage and damage is a result of our past actions. So understanding and identifying those actions is critical.

So take a moment today and think about what you do that could be contributing to any set backs or current issues. If nothing comes to mind then try this exercise again when you are actively engaged in doing your hair. Take notice of everything from how you are feeling at the moment, to how much time you invest, to the techniques you are using. If you are truly present to this experience, you will learn from it and your hair will benefit.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

At the ripe age of 10 or 11 years old, I kindly informed my mother that her duties as my hair stylist would come to an end and I would be "caring" (using the term very loosely) for my hair going forward. Fast forward to my high school years and soon my mother no longer held the responsibility of performing my relaxer touch ups. I'll be honest with you and let you know that I struggled mightily with self relaxing. My coarse, resistant hair was not at all impressed with my methods. Often, after an application, my hair looked like I hadn't even done anything to it.

My mom, who saw how I was struggling at times, decided to observe my process and offer some feedback. She gave me two pieces of advice that completely changed my results from that day forward. My momma told me, "apply more product to each section" and "make sure you're smoothing the product into the hair." By adding more relaxer and taking time to thoroughly smooth the product into the hair, I was able to achieve more desirable results. I'm grateful to my mom for those two pieces of advice because now I've begun to utilize those tips in my deep conditioning experience. Think about it, when we apply a relaxer (which is a pretty harsh chemical process), not only do we part our hair in tiny sections, we saturate our new growth with it and we manually "work" it into our hair to make sure the chemical process is working even more deeply to produce desired results. Why do this with a chemical that breaks down the hair and not apply a similar process with conditioners meant to help rebuild the hair?

So what I'm committed to doing, each deep condition session, is to make sure there's enough product to saturate my strands (root to tip) and that I'm massaging the product into the strands for deeper penetration. I have no proof that by massaging, the ingredients in the conditioner are going deeper into the cuticle but I figure there's something about the act of massaging (smoothing) that enables product to work more deeply. Think about it, sports cremes are able to impact the muscle deep beneath the surface simply through the act of massage. Even when I just applied more relaxer during the touch up, my hair still didn't straighten as well as when I applied more product AND smoothed it in.

I'm using the terms "massage" and "smooth" interchangeably in this post. Technically, I think it's a mix of the two. It's not massaging in the traditional way where we use our fingertips to massage our scalp. It's more about working the product in, not moving the hair around. When I smoothed my relaxer in, I would use the back of the rat tail comb to apply pressure to the new growth. With my conditioner, I use my hands to apply some pressure to the conditioner coated strands. I sorta press my hair between my hands. And I do it with each section. So I apply, massage, and move to the next area. Then when I'm all done, I do more smoothing to my entire head. Add heat to this process and you've got a recipe for well conditioned hair. As a matter of fact, I think that instead of just sitting under the dryer passively, I may try massaging my hair to help further penetrate the conditioner as the cuticle layer is opened by the warm air.

The hair strand is highly permeable. I base this on how easily it is able to absorb water from the air and how permanently its structure changes under the pressures of a chemical relaxer. Both humidity in the air and the highly acid nature of the relaxer evoke the cuticle layer to open up like a budding flower. Once open, the inner workings of the hair shaft is highly susceptible to whatever penetrates it. This is exactly why I believe it's important to apply enough product to make an impact to the hair structure, not just to cuticle layer. Adding heat to this equation only helps further promote that deep level of conditioning we so desire. The act of massaging the product into the hair acts as the cherry that sits on top of the proverbial healthy hair milkshake also known as deep conditioning.

And so that is what I learned about deep conditioning from my mama.

Thanks ma....

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Today I'd like to share a video I recorded recently about my wheatgrass juicer experience. For so long I've wanted to have the ability to juice fresh wheatgrass from the comfort of my own home. For a while I tried to maintain the habit of taking a shot of wheatgrass daily but the cost of a shot and the distance I have to drive to get it, got old after a while and my habit stopped.

So I did the next best thing. I went out and got my very own machine. At the cost of around $45.00, this machine equals around two weeks of store bought wheat grass shots (minus the gas needed to get there). I purchase my fresh cut wheatgrass from Whole Foods. Instead of growing the grass, I prefer the store bought bags. I find that the grass lasts pretty well if I keep it in the fridge.

I talk more about it in the video, but what really attracted me to juicing grass are the benefits to my skin and (of course) my hair. Filled with amino acids, vitamins, nutrients, live enzymes and chlorophyll, wheatgrass juice is a powerhouse of nutrition. I've always talked about how liquid nutrition is optimal because it goes straight to the blood stream. The molecular structure of wheatgrass and our blood are very similar. To me this means that our bodies are able to assimilate the wheatgrass nutrients immediately.

Personally, I want to see how long-term consumption of wheatgrass will impact my skin, grey hairs, and overall energy levels. From scouring the internet, I learned that fresh wheatgrass juice can also be applied directly to the hair and scalp. Apparently, it's really beneficial to the scalp. I may even mix a couple of drops into my facial clay mask. I'm excited about the possibilities.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

I'm ecstatic right now to have the honor of featuring "Pink Pearls", a member of Long Hair Care Forum, on the blog. After glancing at her luscious locks, I knew I had to learn more about what goes into creating a healthy head of hair such as this.......

Lucky for us, she was gracious enough to share all of the details of her hair care routine. So without further adieu, here are your questions answered about Pink's perfect hair.

What is your current length and hair texture?
"I am currently at waist length. It seems my hair has multiple textues: it's coily in some areas and wavy in others. My hair is thick and requires a combination of moisture and smoothing products."

How long did it take to get to your current length?
"With the exception of the time I cut my hair to ear length, it's always been bra strap length or longer. It probably to 2 years to grow from mid back length to waist length. I've never focused on growing my hair any length, just maintain healthy hair. My husband would always use my bra strap as a guide and cut above it. However, once I started trimming less, air drying, stretching and eating healthy, my hair grew more."

Are you relaxed or texlaxed? How often do you touch up, which relaxer do you use? For years I visited the salon. Every 6-8 weeks I would get a touch up until my husband and I were relocated overseas and he volunteered to help with my touch ups. Now I touch up 2-3 times a year with Affirm Sensitive Scalp. I started using Affirm at the recommendation of my cousin who is a salon owner. He suggested using Affirm because it's a great relaxer designed for sensitive scalps. I usually stretch for 5 to 6 month. Currently I am 5 months post.

Tell us about your daily and weekly regimen.
"I've always had a simple regimen.
In the morning: I use a small amount of coconut oil mixed with avacado oil a few times a week. If my hair is dry, I use Kerastase Sublimateur Jour followed by the oil mix.
If my hair is dry, I use Kerastase Nutritive Oleo-Relax Nuit, folled by the oil mix. I also massage my scalp a few times a week with the oil mix.
I usually shampoo weekly. I pre-poo overnight with coconut oil, shampoo with Kerastase Dermo-Calmor, Kerastase Bain, Nutri-thermique, deep condition with Kerastase Oleo Relas Slim and Kerastase Masque Nutrithermique using heat. I also use a mix of apple cider vinegar and spring water as a final rinse. I incorporated the ACV into my regimen after moving to an area here the water is hard. The ACV also leaves my hair smooth and aids in detangling. I mix 3 tablespoons of ACV with 2 cups of Spring Water in a bowl and pour in the mix on my hair. This is my final rinse after deep conditioning. I leave the rinse in my hair and apply my leave-ins. For my leave-ins, I use Kerastase Oleo Relax Slim, Kerastase Nectar Thermique and Kerastase Oleo Relax Serum. I air dry in two ponytails and flat iron or 2-ponytail rollerset or braid out. I apply my leave-ins to wet (not dripping) hair while in the shower.

For my heat protectants, I use Chi Silk Infusion and Redken Smooth Down Heat Glide. In my opinion, the Redken offers more heat protection and the Chi gives my hair a silky, smooth feel. I also use protein and clarify as needed. "

How do you wear your hair throughout the week?
"When I'm home or working out, I wear a loose bun or clipped up with a flexi8. When I'm out I wear my hair down or in a ponytail. Twice a week, at night, I curl my ends with medium size satin covered rollers and cover with a silk scarf. Other nights I sleep with a loose bun and a silk scarf. If I'm wearing a braid-out, I re-braid nightly."

Do you use direct heat? If so, how often?
"Yes I use heat, In fact, I usually experience more dryness and shedding when I wear heat-free styles. I usually alternate between heat styling with braid-out and bantu knot-outs. I try to limit the sue of heat styling by air drying. I flat iron on 300 degrees with my Cloud Nine wide iron using the chase method."

How do you maintain moisture levels and manage breakage?
"Most of the moisture in my hair comes from my diet: drinking lots of water and eating foods containing water. I also use products with moisture and use silk scarves and sleep caps. In the past, I used a hair steamer, which was great at adding moisture. The first time I experienced breakage was recently after my husband and I were relocated to Australia. Since my arrival in June, I've been battling extreme dryness and some breakage. Nothing seemed to work until I tried Kerastase Oleo fusion and a black tea rinse. The Oleo fusion has made my hair soft and mosturized. The black tea risne stopped the breakage. I also have few products from the Kerastase resistance line and will incorporate into my regimen when needed."

Do you do anything internally, such as diet, vitamins, etc, to promote healthy hair?
"Definitely! I love healthy foods, especially Asian food. I eat salmon twice a week, a variety of beans, nuts, fruit and vegetables: kale, broccoli, brussel sprouts, bok choy, kiwi, dragon fruit, and many others. A few months ago, I purchased a large bobble and that has helped me incorporate more water into my diet. Normally, I fill-up my large bobble three times a day which is roughly 102 ounces of water. I drink green tea and take a multivitamin. I try to eliminate the white stuff: sugar, salt, and flour. However, good chocolate is my downfall."

Winter is around the corner, are you doing anything to prepare your hair for the colder weather?
"Winter has come and gone! The winter season in Australia is June-August. When I arrive in June it was the beginning of winter. It seemed like immediately my hair and scalp became dry. I had to add a second shampoo to my regimen, Kerastase Dermo-Calm to help with dry scalp. I also started using coconut oil as a pre-poo and daily nourishment for my hair."

You're stuck on a desert island and you can only have 3 hair related items with you. What would they be and why?
"Oh geez, only 3. Well, I would definitely need coconut oil. It softens my hair and conditions my scalp. Kerastase Oleo Fusion is another one I would need. It leaves my hair silky smooth for weeks. I would also need my seamless combs. When I'm past 8 weeks post, I use a combination of 4 combs to detangle and smooth. The 4 Comb Smooth method involves using multiple combs to detangle and smooth your hair as if you were roller setting. It use this method because the longer I stretch, the thicker my hair becomes. It involves using an extra wide too comb, a wide tooth comb, a medium tooth comb and a fine tooth comb. Depending on the density of your hair, you may only need two or three combs to achieve smooth, detangled hair. "

Some random stranger offers you $1million dollars to help her create healthy hair just like yours within a specific period of time, how would you do it?
"I would begin with making sure they were eating right: getting adequate protein, water, fruit and veggies. This step is not an overnight fix, but eventually eating right will aid in healthy hair. Next I would look at the condition o the hair and scalp. Does the hair have split ends and in need of a trim or cut, is it lacking moisture or protein, is the scalp unhealthy, etc? I would also develop a regimen and make product suggestions based on the hair texture and condition. I would inquire about their hair practices: are they protecting the hair at night, using excessive heat, wearing hair styles that add stress to the hair, improper detangling? And I would evaluate the condition of the hair tools and make recommendations."

Anything else you'd like to add as a word of encouragement or any other hair care tips you'd like to share?
"Don't get discouraged and don't jump on every bandwagon. When you discover what works for you, stick with it! Begin with a simple regimen, selecting products based on your hair texture (porosity, densit, etc). Make a list of products that worked and those that didn't work. Doing this allows you to look at the ingredients in those products that didn't work and avoid them when making future purchases. Most importantly, be patient and allow your regimen to work."

I'm grateful for Pink's sharing. From her feedback, I was reminded of how important it is to start with a great relaxer. I also noticed how she uses quality products in her regimen. I've never tried Kerastase's products before but now she has me intrigued. Her comment about the ACV rinse reminded me of how important it is to do this step every wash day. I vow to be more consistent. Pre-pooing overnight is so beneficial to the hair. No wonder her locks look so healthy. Pink is one of those people who can use heat effectively in her regimen. I can tell from her sharing that she doesn't take any risks when using heat. Lots of heat protectant and a low temp on her flat iron help her avoid heat damage.

Did you notice how Pink's first area of focus, if offered $1million dollars, would be on the wealthy stranger's diet and eating habits? It's the foundation to healthy hair and I'm certain her diet of leafy greens, omega filled seafood, and lots of water are a key component to having a head of hair like hers.

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